If you’ve been here before you can skip these beginning paragraphs and jump to the warm-up. If it’s your first time, read on! Every Wednesday I will share a vocal tip or warm-up. After 17 years of teaching people how to sing I have so many things to share with you every week!
As a voice teacher I am frequently approached and asked for a vocal warm-up for use in a choir or as a soloist. I LOVE warm-ups and think it’s really crucial to use them whenever you are going to sing. It’s an easy step to skip when you are practicing (because who doesn’t want to get to the fun stuff like songs?), but it can also be THE tool that takes you or your choir from average to AHHHMAZING! The trick is knowing which warm-ups you or your choir needs, when to use it and why it works.
That’s A LOT of variables! It’s also the main reason why I don’t like giving a warm-up on the fly. They are most effective when used under the correct circumstances. It’s really difficult for me to explain all these crucial elements in a short amount of time. Hence, the Vocal Wednesdays! Woo-hoo!
Great warm-ups are passed down from teachers to students or teacher to teacher. It’s a lot like story-telling in that way. Teaching voice is both an art and science. Having exercises is one thing, but knowing how to use them is a whole other matter. You will get the most out of your warm-ups if you understand what sorts of techniques or skills it teaches and then use them accordingly. My hope is that Vocal Wednesdays can help you not only find warm-ups you like, but that you learn what skill each warm-up can teach and then be able to use it at the appropriate time.
IPA is the International Phonetic Alphabet and is used by singers and teachers of singers to have a standardized guide to pronunciation. For future reference, I will always put IPA in brackets [ ]. I will also include a pronunciation guide of what it sounds like in non-word syllables.
Pronunciation: ka(t)-kee-ka-kee-ka; the (t) is silent, just to let you know it’s a short [a] sound as in the word “cat”.
Solfege: sol fa me re do
WHAT NOTE OR KEY SHOULD I START ON?
For Sopranos or Tenors, start in D Major, starting note is A. For Mezzos and Basses, start in the key of C Major, starting note is G.
WHEN CAN I USE THIS?
This is a great warm-up to do at the beginning of warm-ups, even as a first warm-up of the day. Good for all age groups.
WHAT SKILL(S) DOES IT TEACH?
- the [k] consonant helps strengthen the soft palate which in turn can help get rid of nasality
- the [ae] and [i] vowels are both vowels that encourage the sound to be placed in the ‘mask’ or face.
- teaches descending 5-note scale
- Sometimes singers get lazy with their [k] to the point where it sounds very muted. Ask for a crisp [k].
- There should be quick movement with the tongue, not lazy.